Criminologists develop theories and conduct research in an attempt to explain criminal behaviour. Theories organize individual observations and facts and puts them into a context that gives them special meaning and relationship to one another. Theories may arise from many sources, including a criminologist's personal observations or hunches, empirical findings from prior studies or even extensions of another theory, but there is no one grand criminological theory that will explain criminal behaviour which will in turn be able to prevent it.
The variety of method in criminological research is partly due to the wide range of theories that are existent. Much criminological research shows a close and often mutual exchange between theory and method, with theory suggesting lines of research action and data obtained from research that indicate ways in which the theory needs refinement or even abandonment (Jupp, 1989 p.83)
Adequate theory, well executed research and effective application of knowledge to the crime problem requires and understanding of the many levels of events that influence a person's life course - from the individual to the family, peers, schools, neighbourhoods, community, culture and of course, society as a whole. Though it is not likely that we will ever live in a society completely devoid of crime, criminology attempts to find reasons and explanations for criminal behaviour and then applies these theories to solving and preventing crime.
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- Sociology: Outline and Assess Structuralist Theories of Crime and Deviance
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